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Silnith’s Lair

Jun. 14th, 2016

07:24 am - Serious question of the day

Come up with gun control legislation that would have prevented the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. without disarming everybody in the Civil Rights Movement.

Note that all the major figures of the movement were investigated by the FBI, so that cannot be used as a metric for denying access to firearms.

Please, I would really like to see what solutions people can create.

May. 16th, 2016

12:31 am - Beware the bison!

And in today’s “You sweet, sweet dumb-ass” story, a father and son visiting Yellowstone put a bison calf in their SUV and drove it to a ranger station because they thought the calf was freezing to death.

I admire the duo for their compassion, but I call them morons for not understanding how well bison hide and fur insulates, and for thinking that separating a calf from its mother is a good idea. I'm also a tad surprised the mother did not destroy the SUV. Next time, just try to bring a ranger with you to the calf.

Here is the Fark thread.

May. 15th, 2016

02:34 am - Oracle v. Google

The copyright case being waged between Oracle and Google right now is possibly the most critical court case to affect general-purpose computation that has ever happened. It cuts to the core aspect of software. Basically, can you use copyright law in order to apply patent-level prohibitions on what computations other people can perform.

The question is so fundamental that trying to explain its importance is like trying to explain the importance of clean air to breathe. Without it, everything stops. However, right now the case is being heard and tried by people who apparently do not understand what makes mammals function.

I have come up with a much better analogy to what an API is than the lame examples used in the article and apparently in the courtroom. A programming language is a language. It defines how we articulate thought and reason. An API is a lexicon, a vocabulary. A lexicon is not the language, but a language is useless without a lexicon. Expressions in a language are composed of invocations of the lexicon.

A lexicon cannot be restricted by copyright. It creates the semantic meaning that language is there to communicate. If people are restricted from using the lexicon, the language might as well not exist, its entire purpose is rendered void.

If Oracle prevails, then essentially the courts are saying that a company can prohibit others from using words from their lexicon. Note that this is not like a dictionary. A dictionary provides definitions for a lexicon, but it is not the lexicon itself. Many people can write dictionaries. These dictionaries will be different. But they will be very similar, because they are expressing the semantics of the lexicon. A dictionary can be covered by copyright. But the vocabulary itself cannot be. Any other person can come along and write their own dictionary that offers definitions of all the words in the vocabulary, and Merriam-Webster can do nothing to stop them. Anybody can come along and invoke the words from a dictionary, and there is nothing Merriam-Webster can do to stop them.

This is how fundamental the question of copyright applying to APIs really is. How insanely convoluted would communication be if languages were never allowed to inherit or appropriate words from other languages? What if every country that shared a language had to invent its own vocabulary completely different from every other country's vocabulary? The idea is laughable on its face.

Nevertheless, right now that very question is being decided in a courtroom, and it is going to be decided by people who do not understand what the word lexicon even means. And people who do not want to know, who denigrate the very idea that they should be cognizant of the concept.

(The saddest part of this for me is that I hate what Google did with Android and the Android RunTime. I think it was a despicable, slimy thing for them to do, and if not for that then Sun might very well still exist today. Despite all that, the case Oracle brought threatens to destroy the entire industry as collateral damage, and that is not an acceptable cost. Please consider that every other industry on Earth now depends on computing in some way. Do you really want to go back to a time when banks employed thousands of people to do interest calculations instead of having a machine to do it automatically? A world where no factories are automated and every single stitch of clothing, every morsel of food, every inch of metal or fiber is fashioned by a human hand? I sure as hell do not.)

(While I personally would not shed a tear if the stock market went back to paper-only, the world financial systems would collapse without the constant churn of high-frequency trading, according to bankers and economists.)

Current Mood: discontentdiscontent

Mar. 10th, 2016

09:00 pm - Fuck JavaScript

I am so sick and tired of every website I ever try to visit demanding that I let it run tons of arbitrary unknown code on my computer before it will show me static text. It is entirely unnecessary, 99% of what I see is just over-complicated veneer over the exact same functionality that plain HTML provided in 1997. And worse, the damn interpreted JavaScript that mimics code the browser already contains also slows down my browser by an order of magnitude as it goes through the heavyweight process of parsing the JavaScript, generating machine code for it, loading that code and then executing it; tons of memory and CPU time that is utterly wasted because what the script is doing is the same as what the browser could have done with already-loaded native code, only without all the nice features provided by modern systems such as internationalization and localization, focus control, integration with assistive technology, and so on. And worst of all, apparently Firefox cannot handle paging all of this used memory (despite my having enough RAM that paging is completely unnecessary) so whenever I try to actually use this "dynamic functionality", my entire browser window locks up completely for either a second or a minute, no clue which it will be.

Fuck you, Web Developers. I hate you and everything you do.

Current Mood: angryangry

Dec. 4th, 2015

12:32 am - I just had to turn off The Nightly Show.


I just had to turn off The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore again. The stupid fucking media is going apeshit over the latest mass shooting again, and so all my favorite late-night comedy news shows are going apeshit over guns again. Normally I try to grit my teeth and just get through it, hoping they get to something reasonable quickly. Sometimes I just cannot. Tonight I lost it when Larry had a Santa come on and say he wasn’t coming to the United States this year because everybody had guns and he was scared. He then said that it used to be so easy, he would deliver dolls and toys and nice things—<click>

Fuck you, Larry. That is not even remotely reality. Children have been asking for toy soldiers and toy guns for Christmas for far longer than you have been alive. It’s in our Christmas carols. It’s in our movies. It’s a fucking huge plot point of “A Christmas Story”! That movie is set in the 1940s, and it was based on stories written in the 1960s. Even five minutes looking around online will provide references that toy guns have been widespread for well over a century, and world-wide, not just in America.

Get off your high horse and just admit that you hate guns and want to ban them. That is really what underlies your entire refrain. Everybody loves to claim that Nobody wants to take away your guns, and that they only want common-sense restrictions. Fuck you. Taking away everybody’s guns is exactly what you want. Nothing less. As for common-sense restrictions, common sense knows that after every single media frenzy over a shooting murder, the legislation that is put forward would not have stopped that shooting! Not once has anybody responded to a shooting with legislation that would have prevented it. Not once.

Stop lying to us to further your agenda. You’re supposed to be better than the Republican party. Act like it.

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

Nov. 29th, 2015

01:52 pm - Answer to Glen Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald: Why the CIA is smearing Edward Snowden after the Paris attacks

Because the CIA is evil.

Sep. 5th, 2015

03:21 pm - Charter schools declared Unconstitutional in Washington state.

I just posted about it under a Slashdot article about Facebook's education efforts, because it ties in with charter schools—nevermind. Anybody who might read this already knows or can figure out the connection.


Jun. 20th, 2015

10:49 am - Yet another call for gun control.

Even though I know nobody reads this, I still feel compelled to post publicly.

The national news is running non-stop coverage of the Charleston shooting. There will be a renewed call for gun control as a reaction. Lots of people will make impassioned pleas to get the guns out of the hands of “bad guys”, and mass outrage at how “guns are everywhere” and they “permeate our society”.

Everybody is going to talk about how the murderer would not have been able to kill so many people if he did not have a gun. That is a meaningless argument. Remember, we do not get to choose a world where “bad guys” do not have guns! That is simply not an option. We have spent decades fighting a War on Drugs, and we have not been able to reach a point where people cannot get drugs. We have passed wildly restrictive and authoritarian laws giving the police massive unchecked powers in the hopes that they would be able to get rid of drugs, and they have not been able to get rid of drugs. We have increased sentences for drug possession to ridiculous heights, and still millions of Americans are willing to acquire, use, distribute, and sell drugs. We have given the police carte blanche to search people and vehicles just by citing a vague suspicion or getting a trained dog to behave as its master wants it to, and still drugs are available in every state and county in this country. We have given police the ability to seize money, cars, houses, and even bank accounts without going to court to prove anything at all and without any appeals process in the hopes the deterrent would help get rid of drugs, and it has not worked.

You do not get to choose a world where “bad people” do not have guns! That is simply not an option. It cannot be done, it is no more possible than choosing a world with no gravity or choosing a world where global warming is not happening. Guns are a fact and they will always be here. The only choice we have is whether to try prohibiting guns in a vain effort to pretend they do not exist. I will remind you again that the only Constitutional Amendment ever passed that restricted people’s rights instead of expanding them was the Amendment that prohibited alcohol. It was such a fucking disaster for our country that it is also the only Amendment ever to be undone, reversed in another Amendment a few years later. And we have lived half a century under a draconian and totalitarian system in an effort to prohibit drugs, and it has failed just as miserably.

There is simply no choice to “get rid of guns”. It is impossible. It will never happen. The only choice we have is whether to live under a strict authoritarian regime imposing prohibition, or not. That is it, that is the only choice we have. And given that choice, I don’t see how anyone could choose yet another prohibition given our nearly a century of historical proof that it is massively expensive, guaranteed to be a horrible failure, and requires tearing apart most of the freedoms this country was founded upon.

Current Mood: cynicalcynical

Jun. 1st, 2015

10:10 am - Call your Senators

I just called both of my Senators and asked/begged them to not vote for the Freedom Act. It is just a veiled way to restore the status quo of the USA PATRIOT Act, and we are better off leaving that shit dead.

I don't know what will happen on Tuesday. But at least I communicated my desires to my Senators.

Call your Senators today. It took me two minutes to call them both.


May. 31st, 2015

11:15 pm - Patriots, rejoice! Nationalists, piss your pants in fear!

Patriotic Americans, rejoice! As of two hours ago, a few small parts of the Orwellian USA PATRIOT Act have expired! There is now no pretext for the New Stasi of America to record and index everybody you ever talk to, when you talk to them, and for how long. Right now the Section 215 provision is gone, expired. (Of course, they will still continue doing it under Executive Order 12333, but there's nothing we can do to change that. Only Obama can change that, and all he has to do is sign a piece of paper. He won't because he has Wormtongue whispering in his ear and there is no Gandalf to break the spell.)

This is a huge victory for patriotic Americans, because this removes a key justification that the Gestapo's surveillance network used to spy on you. Yes, you. They were not spying on Jihadi John. They were not spying on North Korea. They were not spying on the Taliban. They were spying on you, David Smith in Seattle. They were spying on you, Dani in Australia. They were spying on you, Karen in Chicago. They were doing it for purposes of monitoring the public for signs of unrest so they could stem it, to prevent another Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party movement from forming. "National Security" means whatever it takes to maintain the current power structure, regardless of whether that power structure is supported by the public or authorized by the highest law in the land.

If you think that the aforementioned definition of "National Security" is good, then I have news for you. You are not a patriot. You are a nationalist. In short, that means you have no regard whatsoever for the principles underlying the nation, you simply devote yourself to the nation as it currently exists with no critical thought or reflection.

And if anybody is stupid enough to claim they are not interesting enough to be spied on or that their lives aren't private, I have one simple retort. Please post a video of your own mother explaining her favorite sexual positions and then demonstrating them explicitly. If that gives you pause in any way, then you now understand the meaning of the word "privacy". Unless you go through with this and publish the video widely, then you are invoking a right to privacy and you should shut the fuck up with the excuses.

(Somebody else suggested making the apologists publish their e-mail passwords and let anybody and everybody go through their e-mail. I think this is too easy, it does not cut to the core of what privacy really means. Your mother having sex, and you publishing it for the world, that cuts to the heart of the matter. Though the e-mail version does have the benefit of allowing anybody in the world to impersonate you, which is one of the key aspects of privacy that most people fail to realize. Remember, the NSA hacks many of its targets by impersonating a friend and sending them malicious links, or impersonating facebook or twitter or linkedin and serving pages with viruses in them.)

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